By Peter Edgar

Lakeland will continue to grow in recreational offerings with the opening of a new attraction for the community to enjoy. Lakeland, a city dubbed by the Downtown Lakeland Partnership as “a little Mecca of cool,” has of late begotten a number of musical talents, conceived a host of new restaurants and budded new entrepreneurial ventures. One of these ventures is “Boulder Lakeland,” a business recently created by Ben Arnold.

In a recent interview with Baron Realty, Arnold his experience as an international student who eventually settled in Lakeland with his family, and main- tains that his travels developed his love for bouldering and rock climbing. Ultimately, he loves Lakeland and is work- ing with the DLP and the public school system to promote his business and the physical benefits of climbing, specifically bouldering.

Bouldering is an activity akin to rock climbing, but differs in that it is lower in height and does not require a set of pulleys and harnesses to enjoy. Arnold describes it from a couple of perspectives; for experienced climbers, boul- dering is like finding the most challenging passages of a normal gym and climbing them. However, it also doubles as a more accessible way for anyone to climb, because if you’re not familiar or especially athletic, it’s a shorter distance to the top, providing more victories – or, as Arnold calls them, “tops.”

While perhaps bouldering is lesser known to the general public, it is a subject of multiple books in the climbing community, and was in fact put forward as an event in the 2020 Olympic Games, though the proposal was denied, according to Climbing Magazine.

For an activity like this to take root in Lakeland, a city homing thousands of families and children, safety has to be key. At Boulder Lakeland, the climbing walls are sur- rounded by pads to ensure safety in case of a fall, and staff will be present as spotters. Furthermore, tests for durabil- ity and safety have been conducted during every stage of construction, to guarantee quality facilities for climbers.

Obviously, safety isn’t the only thing the makes Boulder Lakeland a hit.

“We appeal to kids, to adults and to college students. With seventeen thousand college students in Lakeland at- tending one of the four colleges in town, [Boulder] is a perfect opportunity to have a group date or hang out with friends… with unique ways to build each other up and challenge each other,” Arnold said.

Currently, Boulder Lakeland is slated to launch in early December, and Arnold vision is to offer both a gym with walls and a mobile unit. At this stage however, they are focusing on the construction of the mobile unit, as they are still searching for a host gym to occupy. The unit they are currently building is a 16-foot trailer with 11-foot walls on multiple sides. It will both be available for private rent and accessible at what Arnold calls “hosts,” business partners who will house the unit on certain days.

When the full gym opens, Boulder Lakeland is going even bo(u)lder than your average venue. Arnold described that “[his] biggest problem with a normal gym is that there’s not a whole lot of inspiration.” Boulder Lakeland will be like bouldering anywhere else, but will be “a place where people are inspired by the climb and it’s more of an experience than just climbing.”

Arnold’s plan is an ambitious one: planned art pieces incorporated into the walls. These scenic walls—he listed the side of a castle, Spider-man climbing up an alleyway and an artificial tree in the gym as examples—will bring [the climber] back to childhood, returning to imagination as a driving force in exercise. Arnold also mentioned an augmented reality wall with a projector that would cast an image on it for two climbers to play pong.

Boulder Lakeland is an ambitious project, but by the looks and sounds of things, it’s in good hands with Ben Arnold. Bouldering will provide a new form of workout and a new type of fun for its residents.


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